Your Excellency, Newin Chitchob, Deputy Minister for Agriculture and Cooperatives;
Teruhide Fujita, Regional Representative, OIE Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific;
Yukol Limlaemthong, Director General, Department of Livestock Development;
Assistant Prof. Dr. Nipon Tuwanon, President of Chiang Mai University
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to welcome all of you on behalf of FAO and the Animal Production and Health Commission for Asia and the Pacific (APHCA) to this Workshop on BSE Risk Analysis which will be followed by a Consultation Meeting on BSE Public Awareness. This Workshop and the Consultation Meeting are jointly organized by OIE, the Thai Department of Livestock Development and FAO-APHCA with the objective to inform and train senior officials to respond adequately to increasing challenges in food safety and in particular the risk analysis and public awareness exercises, using BSE as a model.
I would like to sincerely thank HE Newin for kindly presiding over this opening ceremony. Your attendance demonstrates the importance given by your ministry and the Thai government to the workshop and the consultation meeting. Thanks are also due to the experts from Switzerland, Ulrich Kihm, Torsten Seuberlich and Liz Mumford; Alejandro Schudel from OIE Headquarters, Paris; and Mari Iwanaka from the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries who have kindly agreed to share their experiences and knowledge and will provide us with first-hand information during lectures and practices.
I wish also to thank the Chiang Mai University for the generosity to host the workshop and the consultation meeting, in particular to the Dean, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Chiang Mai University and his staff members who have been working so hard as the local organizers.
As we all know, BSE was first recognized in the United Kingdom in 1986. In the mean time, it has spread to other countries and each new case is making headlines in newspapers and on television. In the Asia-Pacific region, the first case was reported in Japan in September 2001. Since then, and despite the addition of only few positive cases, the disease has caused serious socio-economic problems and public confusion in the country and reduced consumer confidence in livestock products.
Although considerable work was undertaken, there are still some scientific uncertainties which surround the disease. Taking into consideration the nature of the disease and possible linkages between BSE and the fatal Creutzfeld–Jacob Disease in humans requires a continued high stage of alert. Large quantities of meat and bone meal, which may contain the major infective material, have been exported from infected countries in Europe. As a result, responsible services in the importing countries are fully cognizant of the possible threat and of the necessary preventive measures to undertake.
The organizers of this workshop and the consultation meeting – including OIE, the Thai Department of Livestock Development, and the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific – considered that updated information, technologies and awareness related to this disease should be publicized and strengthened. One of our major goals must be to regain consumer confidence through high quality and safe products. In this connection I most welcome the good example set by Thailand in this context, having declared the year 2004 as the “Year for Food Safety” and undertaken major investments in the control and improvement of food quality and safety standards.
This workshop and the consultation meeting will certainly provide all participants with important updated information and technologies necessary for contingency planning and preparedness of the disease.
I do hope all the participants who are Chief and Senior Veterinary Officers will benefit from this workshop and the consultation meeting and become the core persons for BSE prevention and control, at the policy level, in their respective countries/territories.
In closing, I would like to thank Teruhide Fujita, OIE Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific, for the excellent collaboration and the continuous support to FAO-APHCA activities. My gratitude also goes to Chaweewan Leowijuk, Deputy Director General, Department of Livestock Development of Thailand who has taken the lead in organizing this workshop and the consultation meeting. I am convinced that the fruitful co-operation between OIE, RAP and Thai Department of Livestock Development will continue to benefit all member countries and their people in this region. Please be ensured that RAP will continue to lend you full support and collaborate with you on future activities to improve the livelihood of the people in the region in the context of livestock development.
Thank you for your kind attention.